The Journal of infectious diseases

Controlling Endogenous Retroviruses and Their Chimeric Transcripts During Natural Reprogramming in the Oocyte.

PMID 26116732


Complete genomic reprogramming happens twice during the life of a genome, once during the formation of gametes in their parents and once after their union at fertilization. For that matter complete genomic reprogramming happens twice in the same parental cell, the oocyte, when it is forming and after it matures and receives the paternal gamete. Control of these processes in this unique single cell is epigenetic, and our understanding of it is based on information gleaned from imprinting, X chromosome inactivation, and activation and silencing of endogenous retroviruses (ERV). Activation of ERVs is attributed to demethylation of chromatin and DNA, whereas silencing requires methylation, attributed to the nuage proteins, which engage the Piwi-interacting RNA pathway and other posttranscriptional mechanisms. This reprogramming process has evolved throughout speciation because in mammals, but not fish, flies and worms, nuage-component muations affect male and female gametogenesis differentially. Transcription of ERVs is derepressed in both sexes in nuage-mutant mice, but whereas males are sterile, females are fertile. Using a proteomic approach we now report molecular interactions between nuage proteins and components of the oocyte cytoplasmic lattice and speculate how this interaction could preserve ERV/host chimeric gene products affecting female fertility.